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TOPICS INCLUDE: F&F Corrections; Ketchup in Indonesia; Chinese crab beliefs; Zheng He; Taiwan, a food lovers paradise; Dishes named by ingredients; Donating a bought book; 1st Chinese restaurant in US; Green tea; Ginger-pickled walnuts; Hezhen man

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Letters to the Editor

Fall Volume: 2016 Issue: 23(3) page(s): 8 to 10

Flavor and Fortune, from 1994 through 2015 includes:
85 published issues,
24 pages in each early issue,
40 pages each for many years now.
896 articles by 137 different contributors,
10 wrote five or more articles each,
529 were written by the editor, and
472 Chinese cookbooks were reviewed, plus
280 restaurants and
2194 recipes were tested and published.

FROM LPJ via e-mail:
During extended travels including my last fifteen winters in Java, Indonesia, I have learned about ‘ketchup’ in the local dialect. You and your readers might appreciate knowing that their ‘ketcap asin’ which is pronounced ‘ketchup ah-seen’ is the salty soy sauce while the ‘kecap manis’ pronounced ‘ketchup mah-knees’ is their thicker sweet dark soy sauce. Many know that the Dutch owned Indonesia for some four hundred years and that their spice monopoly spread to many colonies including New Amsterdam. In 1667, the English traded this colony in return for what was subsequently renamed New York. The condiment we call ‘catsup’ whose name ‘ketchup’ is owned by the Heinz folk, did get to the northeastern US thanks to these immigrants.
THANKS, we do appreciate your educating us.

From Jamie in Honduras:
Heard many Chinese believe crabs cause malaria; is this really true?
JAMIE: What we know relates to what was said earlier, that many Chinese do believe malaria is due to the haunting of ghosts. To keep them at bay, hanging a deceased crab over their doorway they feel will frighten them so they will not enter. We do not know when or where this started, do you?

From DUB IN ISRAEL: Thanks for some info about Zeng He including that he sailed for China’s emperor; can you expand our limited knowledge about him?
DUB: He was a sailor, became an admiral in China’s navy, and he was born in 1371 the second son in a Muslim family from Kunyang in the Yunnan Province. His family named ‘Ma.’ many say is an abbreviation for Mohammed. His grandfather did make pilgrimages to Mecca, his father died fighting Ming armies and Mongol forces. At age fourteen he became a close friend of the future Yongle Emperor; and in later life became his trusted advisor. We read he was castrated, probably in his teens, then became his servant, soldier, and an eventual diplomat for this Prince of Yan. Later, he goes on many military campaigns for him, is one of his admirals, commands his treasure ships and supervises his more than thirty thousand sailors. One of these ships are longer than a US football field. We do not know which one or which voyages he went on, but do know his first voyage is in 1405 and it brings gold, silver, porcelain, and silk as gifts to the Arab world and Africa. The last is on brings ivory, ostrich, camels, zebras, and a giraffe back to China. His tomb is in China, and we read it is empty, and says he “traversed more than one hundred thousand li of immense water.....with waves like mountains.....(and) set eyes on barbarian regions.” For more information, do go to Volume 51 (July 2010) of the Journal of Chinese Studies.

Asking about Taiwan, readers query: Is this island still an all day and all night food lover’s paradise?
TO ALL WHO DID ASK: All day, yes; all night, much of it. There are oodles of good places to eat in all day, and many night markets, each with a different specialty and more than twenty-five million Chinese specializing in eating or making their own and other different Chinese foods, it surely is. This magazine wrote about many of them in Volumes 13(4) and 18(1), in 2006 and 2011, respectively, do see our index. Also, read more in a great Taiwanese cookbook reviewed in Volume 23(2) titled The Food of Taiwan by Cathy Erway, and read other items in this and in other magazines.

: Chinese cuisine seems to have many dishes named by their ingredients. And, can you tell us where they come from?
LONNY: There are some that discuss how or where they were first made. Here are some specific dishes you asked about and a handful of others sharing the city or province they came from, if known:
Ants Climbing a Tree: Minced pork and rice noodles: from Sichuan
Buddha’s Navel: This is a sesame-covered sweet stuffed with ten fruits and other sweets; from Wuxi.
Bright Pearl in the Hand: Deboned duck feet topped with shrimp paste and a quail egg; from Anhui
Buddha Jumps the Wall: a many ingredient soup, some say has eighteen of them: from Fujian
Cats Ears: Stir-fried flat pieces of wheat or sorghum pasta often stir-fried; from Shaanxi
Dragon Plays with a Pearl: Breaded whole shrimp wrapped with fish; from Shandong
Dragon Playing with Gold Coins: Eel and shrimp patties with Oil; from Beijing
Dragons Fight Tigers: Snake, cat, chicken, and fish-maw in a soup; from Guangdong
Four Stars longing for the Moon: Carp in a spicy sauce surrounded by four other dishes: from Jiangxi
General Takes Off His Cape: : Eel stir-fried with mushrooms and bamboo shoots: from Hunan
Hundred Birds Bowing to Phoenix: Chicken and soup with dumplings; from Hunan
Lady’s Jade Haripin: Green stuffed chili peppers with pork and shrimp; from Guizhou
No More Time: Banana, candied orange, and melon batter-fried; from Chaozhou
Red Cliffs Burning: Turtle with chicken, ham, and Steamed egg cake: from Shanghai
Toad Spits Honey: Sesame wrapped biscuit stuffed with red bean paste; from Beijing
Wok Brushes: Open-topped pork dumplings with frilly edges: from Guiyang
Xixi’s Tongue: Dough filled with date and nut paste and seeds; from Hangzhou

Hello from Oklahoma where I bought a little book at a garage sale for a dollar. It said to wash a vegetable fifty times, drain rice until the water is clear enough to drink, and slice an egg with a thread. Reading it was worth more than the buck I paid on eBay. I learned many techniques, some close to the cooking of my Creek and Choctaw Native American elders. Now, I want to donate this book to someone who can use it to teach; any ideas?
TRISH: I retired from teaching a dozen years ago, and do hope a reader can advise and contact you at: tiptoechaney@gmail.com

Which ten provinces have the most minority folk and which minorities are the smallest populations. Any other data you think we should know about?
NADINE: Your query was typed so we assume you have no computer nor access to the internet. The largest province is the 104 million people living in Guangdong. In decreasing order and in millions as seen in the 2010 Chinese census, are Shandong (96), Henan (94), Sichuan (80), Hebei (80), Shanghai Municipality (78), Hubei (57), Anhuai (60), Hubei (57), and Jiangsu (54). Chinese ethnic minority populations include the three largest, also in millions, are Zhuang (17), Hui (11), and Manchu (10). The smallest minority groups, in the same direction, are Gaoshan (4 thousand), Lhoba (just over 3½ thousand), and Chinese Tartars (one hundred fewer than the Lhoba). To complete the picture, there are almost 1/4 million folk from Hong Kong, and a total of 600,000 from elsewhere, 171,000 from Taiwan, 121,000 from South Korea, 71,000 from the US, and 66,000 from Japan. All other populations have fewer than fifty thousand including people from Burma, Vietnam, Canada, France, India, Germany, and Australia (in reducing numbers).

When and where was the first Chinese restaurant in the US?
KELLY: In San Francisco in 1849, and called 'Canton.' Many of the first immigrants came from that province called Guangdong. Are you aware that in 1893 at the Chicago World’s Fair, an exhibit depicted a Chinese village and a Chinese café opened there?

I know green tea is the one most common in China, but are all green teas really the same?
ANA: Yes and no. Green tea is the most produced tea in China. It is also a growing tea type now consumed in the US and the rest of the world. To produce green tea, high heat is applied to fresh tea leaves rolled and/or twisted or pressed and eventually dried either by roasting, baking, steaming, sun-drying, or a combination of these techniques. Each technique gives the leaves, when brewed, a different taste, as does the length of time processed. 'Oolong' tea, sometimes called ‘blue tea,’ is named because the tea leaves are blue-green on their way to becoming brown. This first step is on the way to creating black tea, called by the color of their leaves. The Chinese call this tea red tea as they name it for the color of its brewed liquid. There is also a yellow tea, made by wet-smothering or dry-smothering tea leaves. When and for how long this process is used makes differences in the taste of tea. Some teas are named for place of origin, others for their appearance, some for how they are processed, and still others for any combination thereof.

FROM SEVERAL READERS: Where is the recipe for Ginger-pickled Walnuts referred to in an earlier issue?
READERS Apologies, below are two recipes that were intended for the last issue; sorry they were omitted.

Some issues back you wrote about a Hezhen man, even showed a picture of him, but said nothing about this minority's fish-skin clothing. Can you share something about this rare clothing?
SITOU: Thank you for asking about this very small ethnic population of about five to ten thousand people. Few know how to make this fish skin clothing, a technique passed down by word of mouth as these people have no written language. No one could tell us where to find written information about how make them. Hezhen people did and may still live in northeastern China and they are sometimes called the ‘Fish Skin Tribe.’ Years back they wore clothes of fur in winter and of fish skins in warmer weather. They hunt in clothes made of either one. The 'Ethnic Costumes Museum' which is part of the 'Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology' often shows their clothing. Contact them to see if any are on display now. There was a display of this national intangible cultural heritage some time back, and may still be there. There also was a blue and white striped coat with clouds and waves on the cuffs made with this unusual material at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. We read that fifty chum salmon skins were needed to make it, collected at a dock as some fishing boats arrived. Nowadays, they get their fish skins at markets and grocery stores, sew them together with thread made of Siberian buso sturgeon skin mixed with glue extracted from the bladders. That is all we know about this clothing.
Spareribs with Ginger
3 to 4 pounds spare ribs, cut into individual one-inch pieces
2 cups vegetable oil, reserving one tablespoon to oil a serving platter
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped, or pickled ginger
½ cup Ginger liqueur
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons soy sauce, one dark, the other thin
1 teaspoon salt
1. Blanch spare ribs for two minutes in boiling water, the very quickly rinsed in cold water.
2. Heat oil in a soup pot and deep fry half the spare ribs until crisp, about five minutes, then drain them on paper towels and fry the second half the same amount of time, then return them to mix with the first batch and fry them all for another two to three minutes, then drain all but two tablespoons of the oil, and discard it.
3. Stir-fry the ginger in this remaining oil, then add the liqueur, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and salt until it thickens and is like syrup, then add the spare ribs, toss well, and the plate them on the pre-oiled platter, and serve hot or warm, as desired, with Gingered Pickled Walnuts sprinkled over them.
Ginger-pickled Walnuts
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup walnuts, each walnut cur into halves or quarters
1 large piece fresh ginger, cut into thin strips
1. Stir sugar and two cups of water and simmer this until the sugar is melted. Then raise heat to high until it boils, then reduce it again to low, add the ginger pieces and let this simmer for five minutes. Next, remove the pan from the heat and let it stand uncovered for half an hour.
2. In a separate pot. Bring two other cups of water to the boil, add the walnuts and let them soak for half an hour. Then drain them and mix them with the liquid in the other pot. Let this rest for an hour, then drain and sprinkle the walnuts on to whatever they are being used for, such as spareribs. Store any leftover syrup covered and in the refrigerator. It can be reused two or three more times, and do bring it to the boil first, then add newly prepared walnuts.

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